Houston Ballet has announced the establishment of the Lauren Anderson Young Dancer Scholarship Fund in recognition of Houston Ballet’s first African American Principal Dancer, Lauren Anderson.

The annual scholarship will provide vital support in perpetuity for up to four underrepresented artists who aspire to be professional ballet dancers and show great promise in their physical and artistic abilities.

Covering the full annual tuition costs, this investment will aid in developing the next generation of elite ballet dancers.

The Lauren Anderson Young Dancer Scholarship is Houston Ballet’s first endowed scholarship to be named for a dancer.

“Fifty years ago, I started at the Houston Ballet Academy on scholarship, which gave me the opportunity to begin my journey towards becoming a professional dancer. I never dreamt that I would reach the rank of Principal and wouldn’t have made it that far without that initial scholarship assistance,” said Anderson. “To now have a scholarship named after me means everything. Houston Ballet is the foundation of my life. I wouldn’t be me without this place. It’s where my dreams came true, and I am so proud that this scholarship will give the next generation of aspiring young dancers from underrepresented communities an opportunity to reach further than they ever thought they could go.”

A native Houstonian, Anderson trained exclusively at Houston Ballet Academy starting at age seven.

She joined the professional company in 1983, and in 1990, she became the first African American to be named Principal Dancer at Houston Ballet.

Anderson remains one of the few African-American artists to hold the highest rank at a major ballet company in the U.S.

After a 23-year career with Houston Ballet, Anderson continues inspiring and connecting the diverse communities of Houston with ballet through high-quality, community-centric educational programming as Associate Director of Education and Community Engagement.

Photo: J. Caldwell

“Lauren’s legacy in the world of classical ballet is unparalleled. She didn’t just get to the top, she burst through the ceiling. She made it possible for the generation that followed her to believe that level of success was possible. Not just to dance, but to achieve greatness as an artist,” said Houston Ballet Academy Director Jennifer Sommers. “Houston Ballet aims to protect that legacy with this scholarship, ensuring that the Houston Ballet Academy can continue to create an environment for all dancers to grow. It is our mission that our student body reflects the city of Houston, the most diverse city in the country. This will allow us to reward deserving students based on their merit to receive the highest level of training.”

The Lauren Anderson Young Dancer Scholarship becomes the Academy’s 9th endowed scholarship, with over $500,000 in scholarships awarded per year through the Houston Ballet Foundation.

Scholarships to the Academy provide support to ensure that talented students have the chance to pursue their dreams at Houston Ballet, regardless of their financial background.

The inaugural Lauren Anderson Young Dancer Scholarship Fund is established with a generous dollar-for-dollar challenge grant from Deborah and Edward Koehler.

Supporters can donate to the Fund at give.houstonballet.org/lauren.

Photos courtesy of Houston Ballet